New musical relives the making of Aussie music history
By Amy Planner
The Seekers are an Australian icon of the 1960s music scene and they have finally been recognised the way any great stars should – by being further immortalised on stage. Georgy Girl is the vibrant new stage musical story of The Seekers’ rise to fame.
When a young insecure Judith Durham joins a folk group for a night, little did she know her life would change forever. Along with Athol Guy the business-minded bass player, Bruce Woodley the keen songwriter and Keith Potger the lady-loving guitarist, they became The Seekers. This musical follows their journey from a local club in Balwyn, Victoria, to the world’s stage and back again.
The casting of this historical musical was superb; the combination of Pippa Grandison as Judith, Phillip Lowe as Keith, Mike McLeish as Bruce and Glaston Toft as Athol could not have been any better. Their spectacular performances were only topped by their musical talent and ability to move so easily from song to song. Grandison has a wonderfully full and versatile voice, stealing the stage with her rendition of “Mamma’s Got The Blues” in Act Two.
Being opening night and a world premiere there were bound to be a few glitches here and there. There were just a few clunky scene changes and a few slight harmony issues, but they are sure to be ironed out with a few more shows. Luckily, there was also an abundance of very upbeat dancing from the impressive ensemble that kept everyone thoroughly entertained.
Unfortunately the big stylistic change of Judith at the end of Act One was rather uneventful; a famous number like “Georgy Girl” in a show called Georgy Girl should surely have elicited a little more pizzazz. The second act, however, dealt with many more emotional tragedies the band had to face. This handling of this was very delicate and respectful, giving emotional heaviness where due and light-hearted moments when possible. It took a really expressive cast, fine scripting and a well-balanced production team to make these scenes as poignant as they were.
Isaac Lummis has done a sincerely unique job of the costuming for Georgy Girl. The outfits are original and distinctive: it took a truly creative eye to collate so many vibrant and stylistic patterns and shapes so successfully.
The musical team Stephen Amos and Stephen Gray deserve much praise for their work with the cast in bringing The Seekers to life in theatre. The intricate harmonies and beautiful voices would not have sounded so authentic and appealing without their guidance and skill.
The audience at this premiere were luck enough to be graced with a cameo from the real Seekers themselves, who walked the red carpet and joined the cast on stage at the end of the show. The crowd was delightfully surprised as the quartet took their bows in front of a standing ovation.
This appealing new show highlights a truly exceptional moment in Australia’s musical history and will be a delight for those long-serving and new-found Seekers fans.
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Exhibition Street, Melbourne.
Season: 22nd December – 21st February, Tues 7pm, Wed 1pm/7pm, Thurs 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm/8pm, Sun 3pm.
Tickets: From $60
Image by Jeff Busby